How Old Do You Have to Be to Work at a Golf Course?

by M.L. Rose

    Golf course managers or head pros will typically be college graduates -- in their early 20s, at least -- while other positions at courses may be filled by 18-year-old high school grads. The youngest workers you’re likely to find at a golf course will be caddies. Many teenagers work as caddies on weekends. Some of them work more often during peak golfing periods, which generally coincide with schools’ summer breaks, depending on the area of the country and the length of the golfing season.

    Labor Law

    The Fair Labor Standards Act regulates child labor in most American occupations. In general, the FLSA prohibits children younger than 14 years old from working, and limits the hours that those under 16 may work. Additionally, individual states may pass stricter child labor laws that supersede the FLSA. However, certain part-time, independent contractor jobs may not fall under the FLSA, including caddying.

    State Laws

    While minors under the age of 14 typically may not work in the United States, Illinois law permits caddies to work at age 13. In Wisconsin, 12-year-olds may be caddies but may not drive motorized golf carts. Michigan allows caddies to work at age 11, while in Colorado the minimum working age for a caddie is just 9 years old.

    Golf Course Policies

    While state laws may allow minors to work as caddies at specific ages, individual golf courses may set higher standards. For example, while minors may caddie at age 12 in Michigan, the state’s Great Oaks Country Club in Rochester and the Country Club of Jackson won’t hire caddies until age 13. Michigan’s Oakland Hills Country Club, site of several major championships, doesn’t hire caddies under age 14. Likewise, while Illinois permits 13-year-old caddies, the Naperville Country Club won’t hire a caddie until he’s 14. Caddies at the Oak Hill Country Club in New York must be at least 16 years old.

    Famous Young Caddies

    One of the PGA Tour’s best-known caddies, Steve Williams began caddying at age 6 in New Zealand. Despite playing to a 2-handicap, Williams says he found himself "enjoying caddying more than playing” by age 13. He went on to caddie for players such as Greg Norman, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott. All-time great Lee Trevino began his golf career at age 8 as a caddie at the Glen Lakes Country Club in Texas. He worked as an assistant groundskeeper after completing seventh grade.

    About the Author

    M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

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